Horsham Rural City Council has secured $2.1 million from Sport and Recreation Victoria to develop the region’s first Nature and Water Play Park.
Located at Horsham’s riverfront precinct, the park will be free and accessible for all ages and capabilities, all year round.
The concept is part of the broader City to River Masterplan to activate the riverfront.
Mayor Robyn Gulline said attracting significant funding for local projects was a major win for the Wimmera.
Sport and Recreation Victoria’s contribution came via its Community Sport Infrastructure Stimulus Program while $350,000 has been allocated from the Commonwealth Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure program.
“We are extremely grateful to the state and federal governments. I am proud that our Council has been able to attract this substantial amount of money for a project in our regional city,” Cr Gulline said.
“It means the entire project’s construction will be funded at no cost to our ratepayers.”
Cr Gulline said she was delighted for the many local residents who have told Council that activating the Wimmera River was a key priority for the community.
The Royal Park Playground near the Royal Childrens Hospital.
“For years people of the Wimmera have participated in surveys and provided their feedback on future planning and I would like to thank each one of them.
“This funding announcement proves that rigorous community engagement and having a long-term vision is the best way to attract the attention of higher levels of government. It gives them confidence that our municipality is a great place to invest funding,” she said.
The Nature and Water Play Park will provide important economic stimulus as the region moves through the recovery phase of COVID-19.
Along with construction jobs, the play park will increase regional visitation to the city and boost the local economy.
The Riverfront Activation Project is part of the first stage of the City to River Masterplan, a 20-year plan which aims to enhance and activate the Wimmera River Precinct and its link to the Central Activity District of Horsham.
A Community Reference Group (CRG) was established for the riverfront precinct in April 2020.
“The CRG was charged with ensuring that quality and effective community engagement was undertaken and I commend them for their work,” Cr Gulline said.
Chief Executive Officer Sunil Bhalla said the Nature and Water Play Park would include a gently flowing water course, manually operated hand pumps, systems of adjustable dams and weirs, spray heads and pop jets – suited to operation by children of all ages.
“Play elements that can be used all year without water flow, including small boulders for climbing, logs for balancing, stones for jumping along and sand pits, are also included,” Mr Bhalla said.
“What you won’t see is a large aquatic theme park with bright plastic slides and other man-made elements. Our community told us through the engagement process that they wanted the Wimmera River’s natural beauty retained and that’s how the park will look.”
The park will be located near Horsham Riverside Caravan Park, between the Horsham City Rowing Club and Sawyer Park.